Finding my own identity in the process of improving circumstances in rural India

Pankaj Kumar Rai 

I am born and brought up in rural India. So I have firsthand experience of the nitty-gritty of problems – though not in entirety, but a great deal.

I was working in e-governance industry where I was involved in ICT intervention in the implementation of MGNREGA. I am and was of the view that use of technology in implementation of programs and schemes are very vital but I was a little skeptical about its perceived impact. I felt there needed much to be done along way.

I found myself very keenly interested   when I got to know about this fellowship as it was very befitting of my aspirations. The great thing about this fellowship is it has been envisioned in a manner which can address the problems in all its inclusivity e.g. the old styled and malfunctioning administration, the weak and unheard community, the paralyzed PRIs, so on so forth. Naxal affected districts have all these problems in abundance.  We are expected to represent both the parties – the people and the administration. We were then armed with requisite tools and techniques during two month off and on training by TISS.

It has been almost a year working in the field and I have a mix bag of experiences i.e. good and bad. The bad, when I see I have not been able to create much difference in the lives of people and good when I see, I am on the way. I feel frustrated when I see I do not have much in my hand but again I reassure myself by thinking that I am captain of my ship and cannot think this way. At times, I feel like a common man who has been deprived of his rights and entitlements and another time as a perpetrator of same act when I do not have right to deliver justice. When I faced failure, I blamed it on the very idea of this fellowship with no clearly drafted list of roles and responsibilities and when I succeeded, I understood the conceptualization of this scheme is really very apt; though a lot more needs to be done to make it impactful.

The problem out there in the field is very deep rooted; so I found there is need of multi pronged approach. Initially, I focused on geographically very big area but found that I am not being able to create much difference. So I resorted to do work in a phase wise manner with pilot projects. Eventually, I found that doing pilot is a must. A theoretical idea can be a big fuss even though well-conceptualised. So it is better to experiment them with minimum possible expense.  I often come across the problem of resource crunch which I solved by identifying eligible and able volunteers. They are many in number but do not want to come to the helm for various reasons.  Being an MBA, I concentrated more on standardization of processes so that these processes can be expedited as well as can be given a tight noose to ensure minimum chances of leakage and pilferage. I also felt that people in administration are handcuffed by old way of functioning and hierarchical disorder. Many of them are arduous and competent but are bound to work in a manner that produces very less results. Corruption is certainly not the biggest reason for the hazardous state of the administration as it exists today.

In a nutshell, it can well be said that solutions have evolved out of necessity. I am trying to find my own identity in this process of making lives better for the less privileged and less fortunate of my countrymen.


Pankaj Kumar Rai is based at Arwal, Bihar. Pankaj a B.A (Honours) from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and an M.B.A from Dr. D Y Patil University, Navi Mumbai. After completing his graduation, Pankaj worked for 4 years in an organisation which was into political research. The objective of the work was to identify issues and factors which could affect upcoming elections. Then he got enrolled in MBA. After completing it, Pankaj worked in an IT company which was into different e-governance and financial inclusion projects.


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